STEVE GSCHMEISSNER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY STEVE GSCHMEISSNER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Calcareous phytoplankton. Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of Gephyrocapsa. This small algal organism (coccolithophore) is surrounded by a skeleton (coccosphere) composed of calcium carbonate plates (coccoliths). When the organism dies, the plates separate and sink to the ocean floor. Individual plates have been found in vast numbers and can make up the major component of a particular rock, such as the chalk of England. G. oceanica is found in marine environments world wide.
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